Hilton Bonvoyed!

I've been avoiding Hilton hotels recently, having had some less-than-stellar experiences both on-property and via corporate support. We had a recent stay at a Hilton Garden Inn which didn't quite work-out the way we expected, and the follow-up via eMail with Hilton's support served to reinforce my desire to look at Marriott and Hyatt first. The odd technical behaviour and awkward handling around what effectively manifested as a billing issue seems more in-line with the issues people are seeing with Marriott's new Bonvoy program, but is just another in a series of unfortunate data points with Hilton for us.

Formerly Hilton Loyalists

When our first child was born, one of the first trips we planned was to see her remaining Great Grandmother. We booked the same Hampton Inn we'd booked for previous trips out there. It was a mess, through no fault of the property. Our daughter wouldn't stop crying while she could see us in the room from her crib, so we realized we needed more space or a separate room if she were to fall asleep in her crib, rather than in our bed. We looked at the options for a few of our upcoming trips, and noticed that Embassy Suites was not much more expensive than the Hampton Inn, and cheaper than suites at any of the non-all-suite hotel options.

Embassy Suites, like Hampton Inns1, were founded in the 1980s by Holiday Inn and were acquired by Hilton as part of a larger portfolio in December of 1999. This meant that we could continue amassing Hilton Honors points (I had a grand plan of using them at the Conrad Maldives to eat at its under water restaurant). With the American Express Platinum charge card, we received Hilton Honors Gold status, which provided additional point earning, as well as what Hilton refers to as My Way benefits which differ between each of their brands.2 The My Way benefit at Embassy Suites is a choice of drinks or snacks, for which we always selected two pieces of fruit and two bottles of water; the former for my wife and me, the latter was universally an apple and a banana, and served as a snack for our toddler.

We've since moved away from Hilton. There were a number of issues with Hilton leading-up to that decision, starting with a disappointing experience at the BWI Embassy Suites; following-up with a bad experience with the aforementioned Hampton Inn; and the suggestion from Hilton's eMail support to call and sit on hold for $0.25 worth of points I'd earned to keep my point balance alive, still hoping for that eventual Conrad Maldives Rangali Island trip.

Hi Matthew,

Thank you for your inquiry regarding shop-to-earn. We appreciate you taking the time to contact us.

I would like to inform you that for this issue you need to contact our dedicated team,y will be help you with the information regarding shop-to-earn policy.

Here is the contact number; 866-540-9745.

As always, thanks for traveling with us and please let us know if you have any other questions. You can reach us any time at HiltonHonors@hilton.com.

Happy travels,

With a preschooler and two new babies, the one-room suites, often with the bathrooms outside the bedroom, became less practical.

Our Recent Stay

We stayed at a Hilton Garden Inn on Long Island. The hotel wouldn't have been our choice were it not attached to a wedding we were attending; even so it seemed perfectly fine and convenient for the location at which we needed to be.

The day before we left, the mobile application alerted me that check-in was available. While effectively all of the rooms were the same, either with a king or two queen beds3, a quick read of TripAdvisor reviews suggested getting a room away from the Interstate and away from the pool, which seemed reasonable steps to follow. Choosing one overlooking the courtyard but not on the ground floor, which would have put us near the pool, we confirmed our check-in.

The next day, our trip to Long Island was an adventure in the down poor, and race against both time and battery charge. About halfway down the Long Island Expressway, and still about 20 minutes from the hotel, I got another notification to check-in from the app. I knew that the room assignment at the online check-in wasn't guaranteed until we physically got to the hotel (which didn't support mobile keys), but I was a little frustrated that they'd given away the room I'd selected and put me into a different room. Since I was driving, I handed the phone to my wife and asked her to find another room. Once we got to the hotel, we stopped by the desk, and got the physical key to our new, second-choice, room. We didn't get any acknowledgement of our Gold status (which Courtyards and Residence Inns have been fairly consistent doing with my Marriott status), but the room was suitable and we enjoyed breakfast the next morning. The Hilton Garden Inn breakfast was better than what we had been used to from Embassy Suites or Hyatt Places, and arguably a small step-up from what we've gotten at Residence Inns4.

Following breakfast, we wanted to hit he road quickly since we needed to charge before heading to lunch in Brooklyn. I tried checking-out as we got into the car, but the app had an issue, so I decided to try again later. While charging, I tried to check-out through the app once more, but continued to receive repeated errors. I then got two notifications of slightly different pending charges from the hotel on my credit card. I thought it was odd, but figured one would drop-off in a few days, and the other would post.

A few days later, both charges posted, both for a slightly different value than the pending charge.

Booking the Reservation

Several months back we booked a room from the event block along with a room at a non-event rate, as we expected some additional family (from the other side) to meet us to take care of our kids during the wedding. The family instead decided to just fly up to Massachusetts, meaning we only needed one room, so we cancelled the room in the block.

For whatever reason, the cancelled reservation opened for check-in. As both reservations were for the same room type, there was no indication during check-in that these were different reservations, and we'd been warned that the hotel was sold-out, so I wasn't surprised when I thought our room might be moving (e.g. if it was already cleaned and someone checking-in needed it at that moment).


My name is (elided) with Hilton Guest assistance. Thank you for contacting us regarding your recent stay at the Hilton Garden Inn,Islip/Macarthur Airport, NY  I would like to express my sincere apologies for the issues you experienced with regards to being billed for a cancelled reservation.

As a goodwill gesture and one time exception, we will assist with issuing a refund for the charge in the form of a check. In order to do so, please reply with a copy of the billing statement which reflects the charge, and we will submit to our Administrative department for review and approval of a refund check. You may black out sensitive details and unrelated charges, as Admin would need to see your name, last four digits and hotel charge. Once reviewed, we will process a check we will need an actual mailing address we cannot mail a Corporate check to a PO Box.

I thought it odd that they could not send the check to a PO Box, and needing a copy of the billing statement was a bit odd (I originally thought they just wanted a copy of the hotel's statement, but they wanted a copy of the credit card statement, which wouldn't close for a few weeks). More than anything else though, the one line in particular seemed odd:

As a goodwill gesture and one time exception, we will assist with issuing a refund for the charge

As a one time exception they were going to refund me for an invalid charge? The cancelled reservation had been refundable—both reservations were refundable—and the cancelled reservation had been cancelled well within its window.


Crediting shop-to-earn-style points to extend expiration dates has admittedly been problematic across programs. Hilton would actually go on to treat me like I'd earned the points in my one attempt at using the program with them, but I never saw the points credited.

On September 1st 2018, we will be discontinuing the Hilton Honors Shop-To-Earn Mall.

As a valued member who has previously earned Points for shopping, we are sending this courtesy reminder to complete any transactions you intend to make by 23:59 PM Eastern Time on August 31st 2018. This way, we can ensure you receive Points for your purchases. Happy shopping, and thank you for using the Shop-To-Earn Mall.

Meanwhile, the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is apparently going downhill fast.

  1. Hampton by Hilton

  2. It also includes breakfast at some properties, and supposedly upgrades in full service properties, although our few stays at hotels in the Hilton brand barely recognized the status.

  3. the site lists premium rooms with a mini-fridge, and snacks and drinks included, as well

  4. unlike those other properties, breakfast at HGI is only provided for free to Gold or Diamond elites